18 years old and suddenly a dad – that news will knock any teenager over! AJ knew what he wanted: to be a good dad to his baby and loving support to his girlfriend Kaeisha. It was the how that was a big mystery. How would he know how to be a father?
Jomon, a volunteer with PCC’s Men’s Network in Toronto, became a good friend to AJ. Jomon was there to support AJ as he walked into the challenging adventure of fatherhood. Here is their story.
AJ: When I found out she was pregnant, I didn’t have any job at the time. “Ok, now I actually need a job, what am I going to do? How am I supposed to do this?” I didn’t know what to do! I was 18 at the time, so I’m like, “What do I do? I’m 18!”
AJ to Jomon: I think it was close to the middle of the pregnancy when I met you.
AJ: It was in April… It was actually just before the summer, in May. [Jomon] was such a great help. He’s been there ever since, and I’m very thankful for that.
Jomon: When we were first introduced, we were like…
AJ: We just clicked.
Jomon: Clicked. We were just like, “Wow!” It seems like I already knew him.
AJ: Like I knew him from years back!
Jomon: Although we don’t see each other every day…
AJ: No, once in a while.
Jomon: We talked over the phone, we texted, and… “Hey, how are you doing?” So that was really great. It’s always a great opportunity to be a part of someone’s life. I mean, I have my own kids and I have my own family. But having someone as a new friend, someone that may be a blessing, in a sense.
So for me, I’m not AJ’s dad, but I’m his friend. That’s what it is. So I’m always here, I always support him.
What does it mean to be a dad?
AJ: At first, Kaeisha thought she had to do this on her own, and I’m like, “No, ok, listen, we’re going to do this together. We’ve made this baby together, so we’re going to do this together.”
Speaking of his father – AJ: He’s the best dad that I could ask for, but he… he wasn’t there for me every single day. I wanted to be there for both of them, because I’m not just going to be one of those dads to up and leave go on about my life as if nothing ever happened. Because I’m a dad, I can still do all those normal things I wanted to do, but I just have to make a room for her.
What was it like when she was born?
AJ: It was like those little tiny bells that you hear jingling in your head like in Sister’s Act… And I was like, “What do I do now?” Especially when I first had to change her diaper, it was like, “Um, yes, um… how do I do this?”
Jomon: Trial and error?
AJ: It was trial and error. Mostly for me, it was error. Kaeisha basically picked it up right away, “Ok, I know how to do this. And we flap this, like tying a shoe, flap this, flap that”… and for me, it was like, “What do I do? Ok, I put this there. What do I do?”
Jomon: There’s no manual?
AJ: No, there’s no manual for it. Over time I got used to the process. I know how to do it quickly. Now I can do it accurately. I can just put her in the bed.
Jomon: For me, it’s always an opportunity to be a part of someone’s life, his family and kids. I’ll always be there, and if they need any help, then I’m always willing to help.
AJ: It’s like I have more understanding of what I need to do. What I need to do for her, what I need to do for my family.